Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has assured South Africans that government will only procure Covid-19 vaccines from reputable vaccine manufacturers globally.
Mkhize, speaking during a media briefing on Wednesday morning, said government’s priority was to ensure that citizens were protected from getting infected with the virus.
“We will not buy fake vaccines. We’ll buy the real stuff from authenticated sources [and] test them to make sure that with everything, we can produce a certificate of analysis that can tell us what’s in it,” Mkhize said.
“It’s very important that we must understand that this is all about government making sure that we are safe and we don’t get attacked by a virus that the whole world is beginning to prevent because we will find ourselves being the only ones who can’t even travel to other countries because they want to know if we won’t spread the infection in their area,” he added.
On Sunday, government temporarily halted the rollout of AstraZeneca’s vaccine to healthcare workers after preliminary data from a clinical trial found it gave minimal protection against mild-to-moderate infection caused by the 501Y.V2 variant.
Mkhize said government would continue with the planned phase-one vaccine rollout using the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine instead of the AstraZeneca vaccine. South Africa has also secured doses from Pfizer for the phase-one vaccination rollout.
The government was also in the process of procuring vaccines that preceded the discovery of the 501Y.V2 variant and other variants.
The J&J vaccine has been proven effective against the 501Y.V2 variant discovered in SA. The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) is in the process of approving the vaccine.
Countries interested in AstraZeneca vaccine
Meanwhile, Mkhize said he had received messages from several other countries who are interested in purchasing the AstraZeneca vaccine from SA. He said government would consider this option once they received advice from scientists.
“I was surprised this morning. I woke up with a couple of emails from some of the countries who are saying, ‘sell it to us’. We’ll consider it… As to what we will do, we just want to assure you that there will be no wasteful expenditure,” he said.
Other vaccines being considered by government included the Russian Sputnik-V vaccine and the Sinopharm vaccine from China.